Ideas Are Easy... Execution Is Difficult

from the so-why-do-we-protect-the-ideas? dept

It's an ongoing theme around here, but ideas are everywhere. The real trick to making something great often has extremely little to do with the idea, and much more to do with the execution. That's where the real innovation occurs -- in taking an idea and trying to figure out how to make it useful. It's that process that's important, much more than the original idea. As nearly anyone who has brought a product from conception to market will tell you, what eventually succeeds in the market is almost always radically different than the original "idea." That's part of the reason why patents are so often harmful to innovation. The patent is for that core idea, which is rarely the key in making something successful. But by limiting who can innovate off of the idea (or just by making it much more expensive) you're limiting that process of innovation.

Some people disagree with this, but the failure of Cambrian House, once again seems to demonstrate the vast gap between ideas and execution. Cambrian House was a well-hyped company that tried to "crowdsource" new companies and products. I've paid attention to them for a while, since their business model had some similarities to what we do with the Techdirt Insight Community. However, as the founder of Cambrian House admitted in explaining the company's changing plans, it wasn't difficult to get people to come up with all sorts of interesting and exciting ideas -- but where the company failed was in getting anyone to actually execute on any of those ideas. Ideas are a starting point -- but it's high time that we stopped worshipping the idea, and started recognizing how much more important execution is in driving innovation.

Filed Under: execution, ideas, innovation
Companies: cambrian house


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  1. identicon
    mjr1007, 15 May 2008 @ 4:45pm

    Time travel

    This may help in the discussion, it may not, who knows.

    There was an NPR story about a physicist who spent over 20 years of his life trying to come up with a way to travel back in time. It seems he actually succeed, on a theoretical level. The story ended with him presenting to a group of physicist and one of the giants in the field being quite impressed.

    This is exactly the sort of thing I was talking about. Any knucklehead can say, "lets build a machine to travel back in time". That is not deserving of patent protection. But the theoretical work this fellow did sure sounds like it should be. Does this make the difference clear. Even though he doesn't have a time machine, his work for most of his adult life provide the theoretical underpinnings for it.

    Of course it would be nice if he would then license it to any all who were interested. But that's a different discussion. This discussion is about how this very good idea was not at all easy.

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